Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview

Sanctification

Why Do So Many Christians Agree With the Devil?

There are many people who agree with the devil on a major issue. What might surprise you is the number of Christians who agree with the devil on what has to be one of the central tenets of what the Bible teaches. Even many Christian scholars and commentators gloss over this key issue. As a result, many believers are in disarray. For they may not know that what they promote as Christianity is instead the worst idea of Satan himself.

The wrong view is a single idea with huge ramifications. It is as a proclamation that it is not necessary to keep the Old Testament law. Various reasons are given for this: we’re under grace, not law; OT laws were given to Israel and intended for them only; the ‘new’ covenant replaces the old covenant; non-Israelite believers are not signatories to the Sinaitic Covenant. No matter what reason is given, it comes down to the notion that it is not necessary to keep the commandments given in the Torah, the books Exodus through Deuteronomy.

Now no one who promotes this idea is suggesting that murder, theft and adultery, for example, are no longer prohibitions on how people should live. They may be shaky on the idea of the Sabbath, yet strong on the idea that there should be no graven images of God. No one suggests that it is now OK to make your daughter a prostitute. But they hesitate when the gleaning laws are put in front of them as God’s method of helping the poor. There are others who believe stoning for blasphemy is no longer required under ‘Christianity’. Some people do not even accept that the laws of God are obligatory; they suggest the commandments of God are now downgraded to merely ‘good advice’ which we are free to choose or reject.

This idea is not new, but not as extreme as the second century heretic Marcion who claimed that the God of the Old Testament was a lesser and inferior God to the God of the New Testament. Thus, he rejected any notion that Old Testament law should be kept in the New Testament era. He went so far so say that he believed that the God of the Old Testament was an evil creator god that Jesus came to destroy

What concerns us, however, is how they arrive at the idea of which laws of the Old Testament still apply today. But before explaining this, let’s take a look at the central passage of Scripture concerning the origin and nature of man’s rebellion against God.

Genesis chapter three records the episode between Eve and the serpent, the ‘Whisperer.’ In that discussion, the devil proposes that death will not be the outcome of eating the forbidden fruit, but that instead Eve’s ‘eyes will be opened’ and she shall be ‘like God’. Eve, and with her Adam, were thus offered enlightenment or illumination to ‘know good and evil’.

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“That they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'”

In any discussion about justification the phrase “faith alone” will generally be used to describe the idea that justification takes place without any contribution by the person being justified. That is, the idea of faith alone excludes any possibility of a works program that somehow earns privileges with God. St. Paul lays out this concept in his letter to the Romans.

However, there are some people — and I am one of them — who choose not to use the words faith alone to describe the idea that justification is God’s work without any additional activities from man to complete the process.  Salvation is God’s grace alone.  It is a “gift of God, lest any man should boast.” 

When you read the Scriptures you only find the words faith alone together in one place, and that’s in the book of James (2:24): “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”  Here you see the phrase is used negatively: you are not saved by faith alone.

“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

In his disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church, Luther correctly saw that there was a problem with its view of justification. Selling indulges was just a crass, money-making program that effectively promised easy salvation as a consequence of doing very little.  But it was a works-based system that required man’s active cooperation with God to make salvation complete.  It  had an implicit view that somehow  sin would be forgiven because of the payment of money. Luther made sure the whole world knew this was a wrong view of what the Bible taught.

In his efforts to hold to the what he would later call “passive righteousness,” Luther was adamant the essence of man’s sin was the idea that he was somehow capable of saving himself, even if he did need a little help occasionally from God to make good. Luther would allow no contribution to the graciousness of God. All glory to him alone, and that glory could not be shared.

Now this is what most Christians say they accept as what the Bible teaches , but not all Christians agree on the best way to describe this theological position. Luther added the word alone following the word “justification” to his German translation of Rom. 3:28., but later it was withdrawn. By adding the word alone, Luther turned his translation at this point from a direct word-to-word (dynamic) translation to what is now called a “dynamic equivalent.” That is, the translation is an explanation of the text rather than a direct translation. Now that’s fine so long as you know the difference.  The demand for a dynamic translation, however, required the word alone to be taken out of the text because it was never a part of the original language.

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